In 2006, the original 300 stunned the audiences with well-choreographed fighting scenes with massive CGI and hyper-stylized slow motion—along with comical looks of broad-breasted men who likes to bark. A simple sequel of it might bother. Luckily… 300: Rise of An Empire is not merely a sequel or even a prequel of the original classic Snyder’s 300. It manages to be both sequel-prequel plus things to be a sidequel—all at one time.
This time, Snyder moves on—as he doesn’t direct the movie anymore but he’s still playing a role in this movie as a producer and co-writer. An Israeli director, Noam Murro directs this 300—yet, no trademarks of the original is missing.
The film focuses on two periods of time: before the heroic events in the original—providing background to the God-king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) whose father was slain by Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) and The Battle of Artemisium—which occurs during the same time as The Battle of Thermopylae, where Leonidas and his 300 fights. Basically, this film expands the Greek mythology according to Snyder’s and Miller’s views.
This movie isn’t merely about ’cause-and-effect’ stuffs, like the consequences of Themistocles’ slaying King Darius, Xerxes’ father, that makes the son mystically morphs into a tyrant, giant man. While some of old faces like Leonidas’ wife, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey—more badass than her own characters in Game of Thrones, Terminator: Salvation, or even, Dredd), Dilios (David Wenham), Ephialtes and even a Persian you might remember (portrayed by Peter Mensah) return; this 300 introduces a new badass she-villain—a Greek-born Persian leader, Artemisia (Eva Green).
Stapleton’s Themistocles is different from Gerard Butler’s Leonidas. He’s noble and he doesn’t bark–consequently, no man barks as storming as Spartans in Rise of an Empire. Even, he doesn’t have all best men like Leonidas—yet, he has all strategies and charms to condemn the enemies. His arch-enemy, Artemisia (and not Xerxes) is exactly his reflection—fiery in battle and in bed at once—she has everything to ‘break’ the all men’s breasts cult in 300 universe.
For those who have watched the original 300, Rise of an Empire might look like a repetition in some occasions. How the movie flows and how the action goes feel like a kind of deja vu of the original. There’s where the problem lies, IMO. Yet, the idea of making this film this way is somehow makes an extra credit that the battle in Thermopylae is as hostile as a victory, indeed.
When it comes to local cinema, the censorship might bother somehow–to the extent that it blurs some parts of the story. Yet, the 3D picture is fascinating in enhancing the slo-mo battle and blood splatters. The cliffhanger in the end, IMO, might lead to another sidequel… after Spartan and Athenian, who else? Theban? All’s possible.
Action, Drama, War Directing: Noam Murro Writing: Frank Miller (Graphic-novel), Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad Cinematography: Simon Duggan Editing: David Brenner, Wyatt Smith Music: Junkie XL Production Design: Patrick Tatopoulos Costume: Alexandra Byrne Casts: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Rodrigo Santoro, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Hans Matheson, Callan Mulvey, Jack O’Connell. Andrew Tiernan